Myth #1: The FIV Test Proves Your Cat Has a Deadly Disease
Myth #2: FIV+ Cats Will Lead Short, Miserable Lives & Eventually Die from Cat AIDS
Myth #3: The FIV Virus Is a Serious Threat to Other Cats, Pets, Perhaps Even Humans
Myth #4: Kittens Who Test Positive for FIV Will Always Test Positive For FIV
Myth #5: There Is No Point in Adopting An FIV+ CatMyth #1: The FIV Test Proves Your Cat Has a Deadly Disease
FACT:The ELISA Test (aka Snap)—used by virtually all shelters and vet offices—looks for antibodies to the FIV virus, not the presence of the actual virus.
In the case of kittens under 6-months of age, a ‘positive’ result can mean the kitten has inherited antibodies from its mother —not that it has—a virus. These inherited antibodies usually go away by 6 months. Meaning they never had FIV to begin with.
The darker side of testing is the existence of ‘false positives’ (test errors). False-positives are when the test show a cat as positive for FIV but they are not. Many shelters, unaware of these test errors, use these tests results and label a cat as ‘FIV’ which in some shelter means a death sentence. Estimates of the magnitude of this travesty range from 20% to 32%. *
But the problem is bigger yet. That statistic applies to adult cats; errors in measuring kittens is far higher.
One final problem is that cats who were inoculated against the virus — upon Vet advice that was valid 10 years ago — now produces the identical test result: a positive for FIV antibodies. For many shelters this means yet another kill order is needlessly issued.
This flawed test (ELISA aka SNAP) has been used to justify millions of deaths a year.FACT:
FIV is not a deadly virus. FIV is not Feline AIDS. (See Myth #2).
Over and over we shall see this: Most cats with so-called “Advanced cases of FIV” are indistinguishable from cats with normal aging symptoms. So why the rush to kill?Myth #2: FIV+ Cats Will Lead Short, Miserable Lives & Eventually Die from Cat AIDS
FACT:FIV+ cats with homes can and DO live long, healthy normal lives … when given the chance.
Statistically, most FIV cats* live if their indoor counterparts (13-18 years), and much longer, in fact, then cats that live outdoors (3-8 years). There are many reported cases where FIV+ cats live well into old age without ever showing any symptoms.
Typical causes of death are geriatric.
In short, if misguided people did not kill them for no good reason, the cats would likely live a full healthy life.
“FIV positive” is just a diagnosis (a not-so-educated guess) that someday a problem might develop.
Cat AIDS (more accurately called Feline AIDS) is claimed to be the 4th and final stage of FIV by researchers. Those researchers also agree that most cats never reach that stage.
Query: what do you call a “disease stage” that is seldom reached, takes over a decade, and is better explained by other forces (i.e. Aging)?
Answers: Illusory Correlation and Confirmation Bias are both good choices. (Google if you are curious). The process itself is a classic case of a logical fallacy known by its Latin name “Post hoc ergo propter hoc.”
To demonstrate the lack of logic of this type of thinking, many cats die of cancer. Does that mean that cancer was lurking in the cat’s system for many years, waiting for its “stage” to appear? Hardly.
Why not claim that cancer is the Final stage of FIV, since it is a statistically more likely event?
To translate the Latin above [and remove the fallacy part]: After the fact, does not mean there is any causal relationship. After the fact means 1 thing: event 2 occurred after event 1. NOTHING ELSE!
Most FIV cats die of old age diseases. PERIOD.
Most FIV cats live relatively healthy lives. PERIOD.
Those who claim otherwise need to bring their knowledge up to date.
It is impossible to predict the long-term outlook for any cat diagnosed as FIV, just as it is with a Non-FIV cat. As we mentioned earlier, the asymptomatic ‘stage’ can, and usually does, extend for many, many years.
Research has yet to document any shortening of life from FIV. Only the statistically rare disease Feline AIDS causes a demonstrable loss of longevity.
With modern advances in veterinary care, along with some holistic, natural strategies that pet guardians have been quietly testing for the last 2 decades, even if the cat does develop Feline AIDS, there are still options!
*Above references are to non-feral cats. Feral cats are difficult to track, are habitually malnourished, rarely receive any medical treatment, and have a multitude of other environmental challenges.Myth #3: The FIV Virus Is a Serious Threat to Other Cats, Pets, Perhaps Even Humans
FACT:In the first place, FIV is species-specific. The “F” in FIV stands for Feline. It does not stand for Fido or Family. Okay?
Dogs, other pets, and humans are immune.
The virus itself is astonishingly frail. It can live outside of the body for only a few seconds. The virus is extremely slow acting.
Modern research indicates that transmission requires serious physical interaction.
“Deep bite wounds are, by far, the primary mode of the virus’ transmission.
Normal social interactions between FIV and Non-FIV cats, such as grooming, sharing food and water bowls, and community litter boxes have no known risk of transmission.Myth #4: Kittens Who Test Positive for FIV Will Always Test Positive For FIV
FACT:If a mother cat has FIV antibodies, her kittens have a good chance of possessing them … at birth. Some Shelters do not even bother with the formality of a test – if mom tests positive.
As any trained feline professional, should know, birth transmitted antibodies are rare!
And the coup de gras (unfortunately delivered by those more deserving of receiving than giving) is this: even if momentarily present, such meaningless antibodies usually go away naturally by the time a kitten is 8 months old. [That process is known as seroreversion. That is, it is known by those who care enough to learn fundamental facts regarding their profession.]
Tests prior to 8 months of age are:
A waste of money (much better used elsewhere, such as neutering)
A waste of time (how about finding homes instead of filling body bags?)
Serve no positive purpose
Irresponsible in the extreme.
Why? Because the results are MEANINGLESS!
“Kittens born to FIV positive mothers are at low risk for infection, although they may initially test positive due to the presence of maternal antibodies.
“Infected mothers rarely, if ever, pass the infection to their kittens.”
Dr. Niels Pederson, part of the team that discovered the FIV virus.Myth #5: There Is No Point in Adopting An FIV+ Cat
FACT:FIV+ cats can live long, healthy lives as beloved companions.
They are susceptible to the same ailments as all other cats. While they may become ill due to progression of the virus after many years, NON-FIV cats may die young, too.The point in adopting any cat is to save its life and enrich your own.
Did you know that cats are not seasonal breeders? The cat breeding season usually starts in January and February when female cats aged four months and upwards come into season.A female cat is in season for several days. During this time, there will be a distinct change in her behaviour - she will 'call' and yowl a lot - so be aware of this if your cat's behaviour suddenly starts to change.
A female cat in season will attract unneutered male cats from a wide area. As there are so many cats in towns and cities it is not uncommon for 10 or more unneutered male 'tom' cats to suddenly appear in the neighbourhood, with the wish to mate her.Unfortunately for female cats, there is no romance at all when cats mate. Male cats have barbed penises, and so the act of mating is incredibly painful. Many young female cats, still kittens themselves, are chased from garden to garden, across busy roads and end up lost unable to find their way home. They end up pregnant and stray.
A female cat is pregnant for nine weeks and will then give birth to between two and eight kittens. If a cat is stray she will try and find somewhere safe to hide her kittens - often under a garden shed.
Most female cats give birth in spring and then again in late Summer, but some cats have three litters a year. During the summer months’ cat rescue centres are inundated with stray and unwanted pet kittens seeking new homes. During the winter, there is usually a brief respite with fewer 'out of season' litters being born. During the winter months, there are still plenty of bigger, adolescent kittens 4-6 months in need of new homes as well as adult cats of all ages!
The winter is the time of year that many rescue teams try to catch up with the reports of stray cats and kittens that were received during the previous kitten season. They aim to neuter as many as possible before they too have kittens and multiply the problem!
At this time of year, it is crucial for cat owners who have female kittens and cats aged four months and older to get them neutered to protect them from becoming pregnant.
Neutering to prevent the birth of so many unwanted kittens is the only way the numbers of cats and kittens who end up stray, unwanted, abandoned or put to sleep because they have no home, can be reduced.